Indiana secretary of commerce hopeful Patricia Miller said this week the upgrading of U.S. Highway 31 between South Bend and Indianapolis is of “utmost importance.”
Miller is in line to be named secretary of commerce if Republican Mitch Daniels defeats Democratic Gov. Joe Kernan in November. She also indicated that Daniels would consider the possibility of turning the highway into a toll road to pay for needed improvements.
Miller told the South Bend Tribune there may be ways to make the cost of the $1.4 billion highway project easier to swallow, and suggested the possibility of leasing rather than buying some of the property that will be needed.
“That’s what Mitch is saying,” Miller said of the lease proposal, adding that Daniels would also consider the latest in toll technology should it prove necessary to make the highway into a toll road to pay for the upgrades.
Tina Noel, a spokeswoman for Gov. Kernan, told the newspaper the governor has long supported the fastest possible upgrading of U.S. 31 and has made it a top priority throughout his terms as lieutenant governor and governor.
“That’s why we’ve seen progress on the project,” Noel said.